In this episode, we talk to 3 change-makers about how brands can be activists for social good.
Just over 50 years ago, Nobel laureate Milton Friedman published his famous essay arguing that the social responsibility of businesses is to increase profits. Since then, his opinions have been fiercely debated and the business community has begun reimagining the intrinsic role of business. Now, we have reached another critical point in the debate: should brands even engage in political and societal issues?
This is the concept of brand or corporate activism: the idea that a brand acts a vehicle for social good. In this episode, we will cover what brand activism means, the difference between authentic activism and a misleading PR campaign, what it means to show up for racial justice, the importance of industry collaboration, and whether it is even ethical for brands to engage in political and societal issues. We chat with:
Christian Sarkar - co-founder (with Philip Kotler) of The Marketing Journal and co-author of Brand Activism: from Purpose to Action. He is involved in numerous non-profit and public-education projects, including The Wicked7 Project, Regenerative Marketing institute and the $300 House Project. In 2021, Christian was named to the Thinkers50 Radar of global management thinkers primarily for his work on brand activism.
Lynn Johnson - award-winning speaker, “Best for the World” entrepreneur, producer, marketer & organizational development consultant. She is the co-founder & CEO of Hella Social Impact - a Black and non-Black woman of color-owned consultancy that works with brands and organizations to show up authentically and impactfully for racial justice.
Paul Schoenmakers - Head of Impact at Tony's Chocolonely, a Dutch confectionary company that exists to revolutionize the chocolate industry and make 100% slave-free the norm in chocolate worldwide. From collaborating with the cocoa farmers who supply Tony’s, to working with governments, NGOs, and certifiers to accelerate change in the industry, Paul & his team are actively supporting other (chocolate) companies to take responsibility for their value chains
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Read the full transcript here.
Tools and books mentioned:
Brand Activism: From Purpose to Action book
Racial Justice Spectrum Assessment
Tony’s Open Chain - 5 Sourcing Principles
Stats and insights mentioned:
We are taking a little summer break. Next episode comes out in September!
The episode is the brainchild of TrendWatching and Business of Purpose. It was produced, written and hosted by Izzy Ahrbeck and edited by Terence Moore. The music is by The Other Steve and we had research help from Thomas Klaffke, Raquel Muzquiz, Bruna Boucinha and Ly Khuc. Podcast artwork by Zuzanna Loch and Nikki Ritmeijer.